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The Guide Horse Foundation
Guide Horse Foundation

A non-profit charity dedicated to providing free guides for visually impaired individuals.


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Helping Hooves
Training Guide Horses for the Blind

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Patricia Cornwell with Trip, one of the horses she donated to the guide Horse Foundation

Patricia Cornwell with Trip

Don and Janet Burleson - Copyright 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Dan with Cuddles - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald
Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Cuddles in Harness - Copyright (c) 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Copyright © 2001 by Cathleen MacDonald

Don and Janet with Trip and Ras

Copyright © 2000 by Lisa Carpenter

Cuddles on the first flight of a horse on a commercial flight

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser
The worlds first horse to fly in the passenger cabin

Cuddles guiding Dan Shaw

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

Cuddles at Lunch

Copyright © 2001 by Erik Lesser

Copyright © 2001 by Wiley Miller

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Ann Edie, Alex Kurland and the Panda Project

Ann Edie, a blind woman and a member of NAGDU, The National Association of Guide Dog Users, traveled to the Guide Horse Foundation to learn about the Guide Horse training programs and to meet Dan Shaw and Cuddles. Ann donated more than $1,000 to the Guide Horse Foundation and set-out to acquire and train Panda, her own Guide horse by Alex Kurland, a horse trainer interested in using Panda to promote her clicker training business.

Edie was quoted in an article by the New York Capital News that Panda was proving to be better than her guide dog. Edie also published that she later retuned her Guide dog and prefers to use Panda as her guide animal.

As a voting member of NAGDU, the organization that published malicious and defamatory lies about Janet Burleson said that she would travel to the National Federation of the Blind convention to vote against a condemnation of all non-dog species as Guide for the Blind. Here is an excerpt on what Edie published on this unfair condemnation:

“My sense of irony on reading this issue of HARNESS UP stems from a very similar situation which I found myself in a mere two years earlier, at the NFB Convention of 2001 in Philadelphia, when the Convention passed are solution proposed by the very same officers of NAGDU, which declared canes and guide dogs to be the only suitable mobility techniques for the blind, and resolved specifically to stamp out the use of miniature horses as guides for the blind.” 

Ann knew that NAGDU was planning to formally oppose the rights guaranteed by the ADA to use any type of service animal, but Ann was hopeful that the NFB resolution was going to be fair and that she would have a chance to tell NAGDU what she had learned from her visit with me.  Here is how Ann Edie recalls her efforts at the NFB convention:

“At that convention, I met privately with Suzanne and Gigi, and argued that the idea of using miniature horses as guides had some underlying logic and possible advantages, and that, in any case, it had certainly not been given sufficient opportunity to demonstrate its practicality or lack thereof to warrant this prejudicial condemnation.”

Ann told us that she was shocked that the NAGDU board was not interested in hearing the truth, and she would not be allowed to voice her concerns about the NFB Resolution.

“I was informed then that the NAGDU Board was committed to the passage of the resolution, and that there was no chance of presenting information or argument to the contrary.  I felt truly powerless at that time to influence the course of events.  I sat silent in the meeting of the Resolutions Committee when the presentation of the resolution was greeted by hundreds of my fellow Federationists making neighing and clip-clopping sounds and laughing in obvious ridicule of an idea which seemed to me to be worthy of more serious scientific consideration.”

Ann Edie and Alex Kurland have some fundamental disagreements with the Guide Horse Foundation in several training and public relations areas.

  • Commercial Motive – Edie and Kurland made it very clear to us that their motive was to use their guide horse to stimulate the sales of Kurland’s clicker training books and paid seminars. The Guide Horse Foundation has no commercial motives.

  • Indoor Life – Edie and Kurland advocate that their Guide Horse live indoors and go outside only to defecate. The Guide Horse Foundation believes that Guide Horses should be allowed to stay outdoors when not working.

  • Publicity Seeking – Edie and Kurland seek to use Panda in public demonstrations of clicker training and actively seek publicity for the Kurland clicker training method. The Guide Horse Foundation has never sought-out media attention, but only responded to requests.

  • Training Methodology – The Guide Horse foundation believes that clicker training is ideal for training rote tasks but is unsuitable for tasks that require complex reasoning. This was confirmed by Edie in 2002 when she wrote to the GHF, saying that they had been having problems training Panda to think independently and that Panda was having problems learning intelligent disobedience.


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Training Miniature Horses as Guide Animals for the Blind

Janet Burleson

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The Guide Horse Foundation has the utmost respect for The Seeing Eye® and their seventy-two years of outstanding work with assistance animals for the blind. Even though the press often calls our horses "seeing eye horses", please note that The Guide Horse Foundation is not affiliated with or sanctioned by the Seeing-Eye® or any of the Guide Dog training organizations. Seeing-Eye® is a registered trademark of the Seeing-Eye, Inc.